In the Garden of the Beast: Chapter One

"Well! This is utterly ridiculous." Relena huffed, drumming her fingers on her hips in an act of frustration. "How am I expected to do anything at all, but wander around this dreary, good for nothing forest if I can't find the bloody castle in the first place!"

The horse neighed an agreement, and nudged her shoulder empathetically.

"Glad someone agrees with me." She patted the horse nose affectionately, and steered it by the reigns further through the thick vegetation and underbrush.

Then, as fate would have it, it began to rain. Not just the soft sort of drizzle, the hard, pouring sort that drenched a person in five seconds flat.

Typical, utterly, incredibly typical. Relena thought in a not nice sort of voice, that matched the perturbed look on her face.

But fortunately, (but then again, "fortunately" depends on you outlook on life.) she began to meander through now thinning vegetation, until, she too, stepped foot on gravel, that crunched beneath her feet.

"Ah..." Relena let escape her lips as she gazed in wonder at the castle she would now call home.

Turning to the pony, she relieved it of the few burdens she had brought with her, and sent it back towards the forest with a parting hug, and soft push. She stood in the drenching rain, watching the pony walk away, as her last ties to her former life.

"Duo! Not here! I have to work to do you know!" A young brunette scolded the an equally young man with a long braid, from a small corner in the main hall.

"Hilde... Bien-amiee..." He murmured playfully, as he cornered her against the wall, and teasingly nuzzled her neck, while nibbling her ear.

She smacked his arm, but not in a very hard way, as would befit someone that actually wished to be free of romantic advances, to do house work (as if...). So, in short, she surrendered to the evil Duo.

Relena cleared her throat form the doorway. "Excuse me. I'm sorry for interrupting, but..." Relena could barely contain a grin as she sent the young girl scurrying off to another part of the house in embarrassment, but was determined to keep the look of anger on her young face.

Meanwhile, the young man with the long braid looked the slightest bit confused, as if someone had told him he wasn't good-looking with the braid.

Relena cleared her throat again. But he didn't acknowledge her. Repeating the act once more, it still produced no effect. So, she resulted to more devious measures.

Sucking in breath, as of a person about ready to scream does such, she exhaled on the aforementioned act, of a high decibel quality, that gave way to pent up frustration, and anger.

"I feel better..." She coughed, and crossed her arms, searching to set her eyes straight at the braided youth.

But he was gone. And she was freezing.

"Sacrebleau..." She muttered, and closed the doors, the sat down in the middle of the large hall, shoulders slumped, and sighed, shivering, and dripping onto the nice obsidian tiles.

But then she noticed the large, obscure figure approaching her down the stairs. It was very large, but not in the sense of height, but of build, and unruly moss-green hair, and similar colored hair covering it's body, massive claws, and feet, that only made contact with the ground by the toes. And Relena would have noticed this, if she wasn't distracted by it's eyes. She sighed in amazement at the beautiful eyes of deep prussian blue. She wasn't even aware when she accepted the figure's furry claw, and was helped to stand. And there she was, eye-to-eye, staring, with mouth slightly agape, into the eyes of a beast.

"Allo..." She emitted softly by habit.

"Bonjour..." He said softly.

That snapped her out of her reverie. And she hastily retook her hand from his claw, sure that she was flushing the brightest crimson at the gesture.

"I apologize." He continued in the same soft tone.

"For what?" She cocked her head to the side in puzzlement. But quickly remembered. "Ah. I'm sure your servant did not mean to. I acted improperly also."

"My servant?"

"Yes, both of them. The brunette girl with the short hair, and the young man with the long braid that makes him look like a girl, but that's besides the point"

The Beast's brow furrowed a bit, but she hardly noticed. And they stood in silence. But that couldn't last very long.

"Euh, Is something wrong?"

The Beast focused his eyes back to Relena. "Hn. I'll have my servants help you to your room, and escort you when dinner is ready." Then he was gone.

"Excusez-moi Mademoiselle?" A light tap on her shoulder brought her attention to two young men standing behind her. One was slightly taller than the other, lean, with hair hanging over one side of his face, and piercing emerald green eyes. The other was beautiful. His angelic face gave a tranquil smile, and calming, serene look of his bright blue eyes, and the palest blond hair framing his face.

"Maitre Heero has ordered us to help you to your room." The blond one smiled, and took her coat, while the taller boy took care of her two small bags of her few possessions.

"Heero is that his name?" Relena inquired, striding alongside the angle of a boy up the stairs.

He gave a small laugh. "Yes, Maitre Heero. I am Quatre, and my silent companion is Trowa." The tall boy gave a polite nod her way.

"Ah. I am Relena."

"Yes, we know."

"Here we are Mademoiselle Relena." Quatre winked at her, opening the large doors, to an equally large room.

"Ah" Relena mumbled.

He laughed, and gave her a smile. "Dinner should be ready soon. Until then, you can amuse yourself here."

"Thank you. Both of you." She smiled back. The comfort of it sank in, and soothed her nerves a slight bit. After they left, Relena explored the large suite. An expansive four-poster bed, with ornate carvings of leaves, and flowers sat in the middle, between two windows, of long, flowing drapes of a pale pink. The covers of the bed matched in color, with small roses, and green vines about the soft linen. Creme tile floors were covered in many places by colorful rugs, of rich texture. She stepped quietly into the bathroom after fully surveying the main living space, and was equally surprised by what she found. Inside, white tile was polished to blind a person with the slightest exposure to light. Soft pink roses were painted with jade green vines and leaves. A gold wash basin stood next to the vanity table, of the darkest oak. A white, porcelain bath tub, with gold trim sat in the corner, with towels, soaps, and other things laid out next to it. She ran the pads of her fingers lightly over the cool, stone surface.

Once out of the bathroom, Relena heaved a great sigh of discomfort. It wasn't everyday you come to a magic castle, to stay or the rest of your life, with a great large beast, and.odd servants. She put the palm of her hand against the glass of the window, and pressed her forehead against it as well, watching the storm clouds give way to slight rainfall. She felt a bit despair at the new situation. She didn't have anything familiar, or comforting in this murky old castle. And even though everyone seemed polite, and nice, all she wanted to do, was go home, lay in her own bed, with it's uncomfortable hay mattress, with the cat on the pillow next to her, and fall asleep, listening to her brother's soft snores from across the room.

Her brother.... Oh how she missed him so, and it hadn't even been a full day away from him. The one stable force in her life, the only family she had ever known. And she had left him. She shuddered at the thought of him on his own. Who would tend to the garden, or feed the pets. Who would feed him, for goodness' sake.

Relena plopped down on the bed, closing her eyes. Bringing one hand up to her forehead, she gently rubbed the area, hoping it would relieve some tension.

But perhaps she was being melodramatic. It could be worse after-all. She'd just have to adjust, no matter how much she would like otherwise.

With that decided, Relena fell into an uneasy sleep, drifting in and out of a light doze by the constant sound of rain on the window panes, and her own breathing

"Mademoiselle Relena?" A light tapping on the door awoke the aforementioned female from her slumber.

"Mademoiselle Relena, are you alright?"

"Yes, yes, I'm fine," she groggily replied, rubbing the sleep from her eyes. She sat up a little shakily, and adjusted her rumpled clothes.

"May I come in Mademoiselle?" the voice muffled form the other side of the door.

"Of course." She replied, trying to ease her way down the tall bed, but failing miserably in her sleepy state, and landing in a loud "thump!" on the thickly carpeted floor.

"Mon dieu! Are you all right Mademoiselle? Here, let me help you up." The short brunette maid she saw earlier in the hall, hastily grabbed her arm firmly, and hoisted her to a standing position.

"Maitre Heero insisted I help you dress for dinner. Oh, I'm being terribly rude. My name's Hilde." She brightened instantly, a smile upon her cherub face. "Now, let's get you something to wear." She trotted over to the wardrobe, Relena in tow, and open it's expansive wooden doors

"Maitre Heero. What an odd name. It doesn't sound very French." Relena pondered as Hilde held up various long, dinner dresses to her body, giving each a frown or scowl, and putting them back into the wardrobe.

"Ah, here we go." She smiled as she held a long sapphire dress, with a long train of ruffles, a heavily embroidered bodice, and thin, almost delicate sleeve that had a transparent sheen. "Ah, that's because it isn't. He's from Asia."

"Asia? Mon dieu! That's very far away."

"Yes, he's from Japan, I think it is." She taped her chin lightly in thought. "Hmm, I suppose I could ask Duo to be sure. He knows such things. Anyway, let's find some jewelry to match this dress. I'm sure there's a beautiful necklace with earrings around here somewhere"

"Is that the boy with the braid you were with when I came here earlier? Duo?" Relena turned as Hilde unlaced her dress' bodice, and lifted her arms to remove her shirt. But even with her back turned, she still caught the hint of red on the girl's face.

"Well, euh"

Relena giggled. She could tell they were going to be great friends.

"Euh " Relena looked skeptically at Hilde as if she had just told her that in about three centuries, indoor plumbing would be an everyday occurrence.

"What?" Hilde gave a stern look in return.

"I'm supposed to wear this?" She asked.

"What's wrong with it." Hilde crossed her arms, and set her face into a scowl.

"Um, nothing. Nothing at all."

"There's a good girl," Hilde patted Relena's bare shoulder, and opened the door for her to pass through.

"Just make sure I don't trip alright? I don't think I'd make a very good impression on everyone if I broke my neck when coming down the stairs because my shoes snagged the long end of my dress."

"Stop worrying so much."

Relena sighed, and marched dutifully down the hallway, and turned to glide down the stairs, when she noticed Hilde was no longer behind her. But she was, in fact, hiding behind the curtains, with another, taller, more muscular figure and sounds of distant giggles, growls, and was that purring?

Relena shook her head, and decided to leave the two alone. She was sure she could find the dining room somehow. But when down in the great hall at the foot of the stairs, it seemed a bit more impossible to perform the aforementioned task. But luckily, help had arrived.

"Mademoiselle." A light tap on the shoulder was all sound Heero gave to sound his presence.

Relena gave a slight jump. "Ah! Monsieur Heero." She flushed in embarrassment. "I am sorry. I did not hear you." She looked down at her clutched hands.

"Ah. Where is Hilde? She helped you dress, did she not?"

"Oh, yes, she was quite helpful. She isoccupied at the moment by one of your other servants I believe."

"Of course, I should have known. Shall we go to dinner?" He offered his arm.

She smiled, and accepted. "Yes. I'm absolutely famished."

Relena snuggled into the warm bubbles of the scent enriched oils of the bath. The dinner had been wonderful, and quiet, with only a few servants here and there. Which was all Relena wanted. She wasn't quite in the mood to deal with many people at this point. Conversation had been light, but she got the impression few words were spoken when in the presence of the master of the castle.

Stepping out, and drying off, she slid the soft, silky nightgown over her head, and stifled a yawn with the back of one delicate hand.

Padding across the thick carpet, she rolled back the covers, and slid in. Getting comfortable, she continued her dreamless sleep.